1980 - 1989
RESURGENCE OF THE LOWER GRADES
The 1980s began with the Adelaide University Football Club not having won an A1 grand final since 1975. The Blacks had made appearances in every major round since that time except for 1977, not counting the controversial 1970 season. To rectify this situation, the 1980 pre-season saw the continuation of a vigorous recruiting policy on campus, and extended to uni students not playing for the Blacks. This pro-active approach had been started in the late 1970s and was essential in the competition for talented players.
The results of this policy slowly manifested itself in the overall performances of the club. In 1980 all six sides had a chance to reach the four with one minor round game remaining. Four sides ended up in the finals, and two premierships resulted - A1 Reserves and A8.
The enthusiasm generated in the last few seasons of the previous decade had been very high. This led to the formation of a G grade or seventh side. Registrations were now approaching the levels of the late 1960s and the early 1970s, when eight teams were fielded at the height of the club's strength. This improvement in numbers and atmosphere at the club was attributed to many factors. That the club now had a larger pool of willing administrators than had been the case for quite some time, the policy of pre-season trips to replace the Inter-Varsity competitions had proved very popular, and the upgrading of facilities at University Oval, despite a cutback in financial support from the Sports Association, all contributed.
The return to the club in 1980 of Dr F.A. (Fred) Bloch as senior coach and P.J.L. (Paul) Rofe as football director, along with the increased support of past players, was also an important aspect of this revival. Fred's return, in particular, was pivotal in ensuring the successes that the Blacks were to achieve in the next 25 years.
From 1982, the teaming of ‘Chocka' Bloch and Michael Weatherald influenced the club significantly. More structured recognition of team and player performances through milestone photographs, team photographs, ‘the Weathers' Keg' and the ‘Long'un' Wilson Trophy, ensured more stability in the lower grades' coaching staff and players.
In addition, the advent of Hold Your Bowlies - the weekly club gathering to read the scores and make a nominated skuller drink far too much beer - and increased sponsorship and involvement of past players established sound foundations that have been built on and are in evidence today.
Success was not instantaneous - it took some time for these positive initiatives to manifest themselves on the scoreboard. The 1985 season saw no side finish above fourth, although a second-place finish in the Norwich Life Cup was an indication of improvement in both depth of talent and performances across the club.
Player strength was bolstered in 1986 by the arrival of talented players from Adelaide College, who had folded as a club that year. John Griffen's influence in 1986 and 1987 was significant, with the 1986 A1 premiership providing the fillip that the Management Committee and Club players and supporters were seeking.
At least five sides competed in the finals for the rest of the decade - a great achievement that restored the Blacks to a position of strength in the Amateur League.
In 1988 the top four sides had to move to Park 10 whilst a new cricket pitch was installed at beautiful University Oval. This ‘hip-and-shouldered' the remaining lower grade sides north to Park 9 - the former Teachers' College Oval.
The decade saw the resurgence of the lower grades with 11 lower grade premierships and 14 medallists. Indeed, the 1988 season saw Blacks' players awarded five Amateur League medals.
More importantly, the ten-year drought in A1 grade premierships was broken in 1986.